Monday 18 January 2016

Our Christmas 2015

I know, I Know. Who wants to read about Christmas in the middle of January?!

This Christmas felt like a chance for some long-awaited family time. Laurie hadn’t really had a block of time off work for a while, and with me sometimes working weekends still, it means we don’t always get to spend much time as a complete family unit. I was looking forward to having Ebony off nursery for two weeks, and was pleased to find out she was really excited about this too. She said she was happy about spending some time just the three of us, I know one day she won’t feel that way anymore, so I’m making the most of it now.

Laurie took two weeks off work and even though I was meant to work over Christmas, I ended up abandoning that plan on the first day of the holidays. So my to-do list hasn’t gotten any smaller, but I had a decent break and felt pretty relaxed by the end of it.

I’d been preparing for Christmas for months and had pretty much all the presents sorted by the end of October (I know, that’s sick, but I hate leaving things to the last minute and there is nothing I despise more than Christmas crowds at the shops), but had trailed off towards the end and so still felt like there was a lot to do in the days leading up to Christmas.

One of the most difficult parts of Christmas, I think, is knowing when to put the stocking at the end of the bed. Ebony often wakes up once in the night and comes to find us in our bed. This can happen at midnight, at 4am and something it doesn’t happen at all. If she’d woken up to find a bag of presents as midnight, we’d have been in trouble. I decided to set an alarm for 5:30am and do it then. Ebony was still fast asleep and snoring as I quietly stole the stocking from the end of her bed. I was just loading presents into it (not a quiet job), when I heard her stir, so I had to ditch the presents and put the stocking back and then hide. This felt a lot like being on a spy on a bloody dangerous mission. She started snoring again so I grabbed the stocking again, filled it as quietly as I could, ditched it on her bed and then ran back to bed. Imagine being caught playing Santa by your three year old. Her future therapist would be hearing about it for years!

I went back to bed but didn’t really sleep, much like I imagine James Bond doesn’t sleep after he gets back from his night of death-defying stunts. At about 7am, Ebony came running in to tell us it was Christmas. She hadn’t yet noticed the stocking of gifts so we all went into her room together. She’d asked Santa for some lego, so as well as a big tub under the tree, there were three lego people wrapped in her stocking. This was pretty exciting, as was the princess dress and other bits she unwrapped. Everything was carefully inspected, played with and appreciated before being tossed to the side so she could unwrap another. I’m enjoying this age where she is excited about everything and wants to play with each thing before moving on.

After the presents were opened, we went downstairs to have breakfast. We always have lardy cake for breakfast, my talented dad makes it and drops it round before Christmas Day. I have had lardy cake for breakfast every since I was little. Originally made with animal fat, then when I went vegetarian, butter, it’s now a much healthier vegan version that still tastes pretty decadent for breakfast. We ate our lardy cake whilst opening the rest of our presents around the tree. Ebony was really pleased with all her gifts and the entire house was covered in a sea of wrapping paper by the time she’d finished opening them.

The only downside to her playing with each present as she opens it, is that it takes a hell of a long time. We were hoping to go for a walk before my parents arrived, but in the end, we only had time to go and feed the ducks at Etherow Park. A couple of years ago we managed a Christmas Day walk and it was really lovely, so I was hoping we’d make it into a tradition. We fed the ducks and had a little wander before rushing home to find my parents had arrived before us.

I was really hoping my sister would be spending Christmas Day with us, she hasn’t for the past couple of years because she was living in Canada so the idea of a full family Christmas was pretty exciting. In the end, however, she had to work. She works in a pub that serves Christmas dinner, they charge about £70 a head and, for her eight hour shift on Christmas Day, my sister received just £20 on top of her usual minimal wage. That works out at about £2 extra an hour for working Christmas Day. She wasn’t told this in advance, only that she’d get a big bonus. Pretty disgusting, right? So, if you eat out on Christmas Day, make sure you choose a venue that properly compensates the staff for working on what should be a family day.

Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent, but I’m still really cross for her. Imagine how much extra money the owners made for opening on Christmas Day, and how little of that they passed on to the people who actually worked. Gah.

Anyway, so it was just my parents joining us for Christmas. They arrived at 2pm and then there were more presents to unwrap. My childhood was filled with amazing homemade toys thanks to my very talented mum and dad (this talent was not passed down genetically to the next generation), and for Christmas this year, my dad had made Ebony a place to keep her dressing up clothes (of which she has many). It was a place for her hats, plenty of room for her costume, hooks for her accessories and a place for the shoes. And it even has a mirror so she can see how she looks. In short, it’s amazing. And it has finally solved my problem of where the hell should all these costumes go!?

After the presents were unwrapped, I made a start on dinner. My parents aren’t vegan but they always join us for our vegan Christmas Dinner. I usually make vegan haggis as the main, but this year I cheated and bought a nut roast. It wasn’t so great, so next year I’m going back to making something myself. I just decided to try and avoid extra stress this year which is why I let Tesco do the work for me. Yorkshire puddings are the most important of the meal, I think, probably because it took years of being vegan before we stumbled across a recipe that actually worked (it’s this one).

We ate Christmas Dinner, watched Christmas television and playing with Ebony’s new toys. Then it was time for bed, and she was exhausted so it wasn’t too difficult getting her to sleep that night. The only problem was I fell asleep with her (happens a lot), so I didn’t get back downstairs till after 9pm. We spent the rest of the evening playing board games and eating chocolate mints. It was an exhausting day, but a really wonderful Christmas.

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